Hide and Seek

The Strange Duo

Blue eyes opened suddenly, as if they had been set on a timer. Surprised, the room's other occupant, who had been caught staring, jumped off the bed, only to land on the oak floor with a solid thump.

"Itai!" A voice shouted, causing the person in the bed to glare at the figure on the floor.

"I'd appreciate it if you didn't stare at me for god knows how long. No matter how eye-catching I am." A voice said dryly, before the owner of the second voice got off the bed he was occupying.

"Hakou, you jerk! Don't open your eyes so suddenly, those can really surprise somebody!" The owner of the first voice complained, before getting up off the floor.

"Evidently," Hakou stated coolly, before beginning to wrap bandages around his bare torso.

Eyeing the bandages, the other boy began to get dressed as well. "Do you really need those?" he asked.

"I wouldn't want to freak out anybody else with my unnatural scars… Besides, these here are a sort of shield I hide behind, I guess. But why the sudden interest in my personal affairs, Luciano?"

Luciano huffed as a reply, and set himself to ordering room service.

Luciano's roommate just stared at him in amusement for a few seconds before he finished with the bandages and slipped a sleeveless blue turtleneck over his head. By the time the food was ordered, Hakou was ready, and was reclined against the wall, listening to music with his black headphones.

"Geeze, I swear. Music is going to rot this generation's brains." Luciano commented while taking out his own light blue headphones, earning himself an eye-roll that stated, How contradictory. He grinned cockily and waved off the insult, before sitting down Indian-style, leaning against the bed, with his eyes closed.

After about 30 minutes, there came a knock on the door. Hakou yawned a little, before turning off the music and taking off his headphones, letting them rest on his neck. Then he made his way over to the door and opened it, accepting food and giving up some cash.

He turned around, balancing the heavy tray, before setting it down on the floor in front of Luciano and himself.

By that time, Luciano had taken off his headphone as well and had hidden them who-knows-where on his body. Grinning, Luciano quickly began to chow down, talking between mouthfuls.

"So-munch, much-I heard that-crunch-the Hunter examination is today-gulp, gulp-and I was thinking-much, munch, much-that we should enter."

Hakou stared incredulously at his companion. "How can you expect me to talk to you seriously when your replies will sound like that?"

Luciano just gave Hakou a cheeky grin and replied, "Well, I'd expect-gulp, gulp, aaah-that you'd be used to it-munch, munch-by now."

Head to his hand, Hakou laughed slightly, resolving to forget about his companion's eating habits once and for all. "Anyway, that was our plan in the first place."

Luciano stared at him blankly, while Hakou stared at him, dismayed, sending over an I-can't-believe-I'm-still-with-this-idiot vibe.

"You know you love me," Luciano said, winking, before leaning back with a contented sigh, his plate now empty. "Anyway, let's go down to the-eeeh? You haven't even started eating!"

Glancing at his companion wryly, Hakou began to eat his breakfast that consisted of two eggs, sunny side up, toast, bacon, and orange juice. "Huh. You eat slowly and you have a boring taste in food. Why am I still traveling with you?"

"Anything seems boring, compared to your taste," Hakou began, nodding towards the plate that used to hold raspberry pancakes with strawberries scattered on top, completed with whipped cream and two large bananas that surrounded the misshaped pancake. "And you eat faster than the speed that is considered healthy. As for why you are traveling with me, it would have to be because you enjoy stalking people such as I."

"Such as I?" Luciano asked, eyebrows twitching. "You narcissist."

"I prefer the term self-confident." Hakou shot back without even glancing up from his food.

Unable to reply, Luciano laughed lightly, and quietly waited for his strange companion to finish.


The odd pair looked up at the greasy-looking restaurant. "Are you sure we're in the right place, Luciano?"

"Quite sure! My information network never fails!"
"For some reason, I doubt that."

"Hey! I resent that!"

"No reason why you shouldn't. Now come on." Hakou said somewhat impatiently, before he briskly walked into the restaurant, leaving the protesting boy to follow.

"I want the… erm… steak combo, please." Hakou said, feeling slightly ridiculous. Not that he doubted his partner, but the simplicity of it amazed him.

"Grilled or broiled?" the fat chef asked suspiciously.

"Grilled over a low flame please!" Luciano exclaimed confidently.

"Comin' up!" The chef replied heartily, while a young waitress beckoned them to go inside another room.

As they had just eaten, Hakou didn't feel the need to eat the steak. However, the bottomless pit that was Luciano still felt that he was hungry, so while Hakou reclined on the floor, Luciano chowed down on the well-made steak.

"How do you stay skinny?" Hakou asked.

"Skill." Luciano replied sharply, before washing it down with some water. Silently, the two of them waited until they reached the -100th floor. Taking their badges out and putting them on the left side of their chests, they stepped out, only to be greeted by absolute silence.

"Luciano…." Hakou growled dangerously.

"Y-yes?" Luciano asked, backing away from his companion nervously.

"How early did your 'information network' say to get here with minimum waiting time?" he asked.

"Umm… About twelve o'clock." He replied, inching away.

"Then why are we here at FOUR?"

"W-well, the early bird catches the worm!"

"Luciano…" He growled again, before proceeding to chase him down the tunnel.

"You should've noticed that our numbers were one and two!"

"You idiot!"

Soon, their echoing screams could not be heard, and then the other contestants began to trickle in.


"Hakou?"

"Yes?"

"Would you mind getting off me? I have an important announcement to make."

"And what would that be?" Hakou asked as he complied.

"I don't think we should have gone this far." Luciano commented, shaking off dust and standing up. Hakou looked around at their forest-y surroundings.

Calmly, he replied, "I suppose we shouldn't have."

"I've got some cards. You game?"

"Of course."


Satotz the examineer, along with all the remaining examinees, blinked in astonishment. In front of them sat two young boys, one with short, white-ish blonde hair and light blue eyes, and another with shoulder-length black hair with azure eyes, playing cards nonchalantly.

"Damn! I lost, you cheater!" The boy with white-blonde hair exclaimed.

"I didn't cheat until you have absolute proof." The black haired boy replied coolly.

"How else could you-oh, hello." Both of the boys turned to face the stunned crowd, showing them their numbers-one for the angry boy, two for the calm one.

"Ah. It seems that we have found our missing examinees." Satotz stated, regaining control first. "Anyway, we are in the Milsy Wetlands, also known as the 'Swindler's Swamp.' It comprises the next leg of the first phase. Please note that there are many crafty and voracious creatures unique to these wetlands. They'll trick you in a blink, and eat you with relish. Follow me and stay focused. If you are deceived, you are dead…. If you don't follow me, you will get lost."

"Ah, isn't this great! We haven't been disqualified!" Luciano exclaimed merrily to his companion, who was currently shooting daggers at him.

"That's great, but I won't forgive you. Sitting through twelve hours of playing Go Fish and Poker is not my idea of fun." Hakou shot back, both of them completely unaware of the examiner fiasco unfolding.

"You won all the Poker games, so you shouldn't be so stuck-up."

"And you won all the games of Go Fish. Now why does that not surprise me?"

Luciano shrugged. "It's a mystery."

Hakou just rolled his eyes and stood up. "Oh, look, somebody died." He said, blinking.

"Eh?" Luciano asked incredulously, before standing up as well, placing the cards back into his suspiciously spotless white hoodie. "So there is. I wonder what happened?"

Hakou shrugged. "That's the real mystery. Well, everybody's leaving right now. Let's get a move on."

"Roger!" Luciano replied smartly, before jogging with the rest of the pack.


"Wait! Hakou!" Luciano called, and stopped running. Turning around quizzically and cocking his head to the side in an unspoken question, Hakou jogged over to his waiting friend. "There's a fight going on-that strong joker guy is killing some people."

"Ah. You felt that too? Anyway, this should be interesting."

Silently, they watched the fight go on, drinking in all the knowledge they possibly could about the strong guy and any others that seemed interesting.


"404's got some real potential, as does 405." Hakou commented as they jogged on, following the trails left behind by the rest of the pack.

"I saw that too! What about 403?" Luciano asked, though he was already sure of the answer, as the two generally managed to think the same thing on the analytical side of battles.

"He's got some potential, but not as much as those other two. He is too hotheaded and not skillful enough. He seems to be more of a healer, not an attacker. You saw that too, right?"

Luciano nodded in reply, before moving onto a darker subject. "44's a real monster. His Nen is amazing…"

Hakou nodded as well. "I'm not as good as you are on that aspect, but I could still sense the amazing amount of Nen he has… And such battle skill and experience! We're not quite up to par with him yet, though if we spar him together, I don't doubt we'll give him a good challenge."

Luciano shivered slightly. "No doubt, with the way we are now, we would end up dead if we went alone." He said.

"Or seriously injured. But with more training, we're sure to surpass him." Hakou said.

"Do I detect some more narcissism?"

"No, I made sure to include you, didn't I?"

"I catch the undertone."

"I sincerely believe that you will surpass the Joker."

Luciano smiled widely. "Thanks, Hakou."

They ran on in companionable silence.


They caught up with the group with only five minutes to spare. "Lucky!" Luciano said while grinning, and gave Hakou a high-five.

"We shouldn't act so cheerfully yet. You never know, there might be some competition that we absolutely suck at-" Hakou began.

"COOKING!"
At the sound of the voice, both of their heads shot up. "Cooking?' Hakou mimicked eagerly.

"Oh no…" Luciano groaned.

A fat man began to name what he wanted. "For me it will be… Roast pork! That's what I like best. I don't care what kind of pork it is, as long as you chase it in Biska Woods. Okay… Let the second round begin!"

Both of them ran off into the woods.

"I swear, if you get anywhere near the pigs after they've been killed I'll…" Luciano began.

"Eeh? But I'm a great cook! You said so yourself!" Hakou exclaimed quizzically.

Luciano looked away, thinking, I just didn't have the heart to tell you that I dumped it all in the trashcan after nearly throwing up.

"W-well… It's just that you're so good that you'll raise the standards, causing others to loose!" Luciano fibbed, hoping his partner would believe him.

"Eh? You've never cared about other people before!" Hakou said stoutly, not giving up. Luciano sighed; Hakou was an enigma he just couldn't figure out.

Luckily for him, they were approached by a pack of what could only be the pork in question. "Oo, Great Stamp? Hit their heads, Hakou!" Luciano cried and then sat back, preparing a fire and a few large sticks to roast the meat on.

"What? You're not helping?" Hakou exclaimed.

"Nah, I was thinking that we should just work in turns. You kill, I cook. I'm wearing a light-colored sweatshirt, and I have no plans to get it dirty."

Hakou thought over that logic for a second, before he agreed and faced the oncoming pack. An icy look glazed over his eyes, giving him a hardened, serious look. By the time it was all over, Luciano had gotten a few fires started and some giant sticks to put the pork on. "Your speed at lighting fires still amazes me."

"I believe that was a record time for you," Luciano replied, before motioning for the other to bring over the pigs and put them over the fires.

Forty-five minutes later, the two of them ran back to the building and with a pig in their hands and a pig in their bellies.


Sushi.

What the heck was that?

Both of them stared at the table in front of them.

Suddenly, the cry of "Fish" rang out.

Both of them look at each other, the table, and the disappearing crowd, and simultaneously flopped down onto the ground.

"It's no use, Luciano."

"Better luck next year."

"Damn…"


"Sorry guys, I'm all full."

Number of contestants passed: None.


The examination balloon saved the day.

"Thank god." Luciano said, and Hakou nodded silently. Both of them glanced down at the canyon.

His remark caused some to glance at them disbelievingly, thinking, how can this be any better?

Both of them looked behind, and saw 99, 403, 404, and 405 all talking animatedly. Soon, the four of them jumped, quickly followed by some others, including the Joker himself.

Luciano and Hakou glanced at each other. Luciano grinned widely, and Hakou let out a little smile of excitement, before they both jumped off.

"Yyyaaaaaahhooooo!" Luciano exclaimed, taking up a freefalling position.

"Don't get too daring, you don't want to miss by accident." Hakou shouted, earning himself a glare as he proceeded to do multiple somersaults in the air.

"Show-off!" Luciano cried, as he landed on a string with his bare feet.

Hakou grabbed a different string, raising his eyebrows.

"Touché."


"I think I just saw heaven!" Luciano cried dramatically.

"Stop over-dramaticising. This egg is below the standard of egg that I cook." Hakou remarked self-righteously.

"Narcissist."

"Self-confident. And that narcissist comment is getting old."

"Never!"

"You wish."


"It might be time for the 42 contestants to know who I am. My name is Netero, and I'm responsible for the trials, and a member of the organization committee. I wasn't supposed to show myself until the final phase of the trails, but I came sooner than expected. Your anxiety is comprehendible, but I believe it's a good thing, so if you'll allow me among you for the time being…" The old man who had intervened earlier stated.

A weird blob person continued to supply information. "We should arrive tomorrow around eight at the next trial ground. We are waiting for them to contact us. You are free to do whatever you want until we arrive."

Luciano and Hakou looked at each other. "It's time to look at the interesting people." Luciano remarked, and they both nodded.


The two of them stared at the suspicious looking man with a rectangular nose as he walked away from numbers 405 and 403. "I don't trust him." Hakou remarked.

"Yea…" Luciano agreed, and then they turned towards the two. "Hello! My name is Luciano, and this is my friend, Hakou!"
"Friend? I don't recall-" He began, before he was kicked in the knee by Luciano. "You-"

"Shh! Anyway, what are your names?" Luciano asked.

"I'm Kurapika," Said number 405. "And this is Leorio. It is nice to meet you."

"Ooh! Such manners! Anyway, how do you think the test is going to go?" Luciano rambled on animatedly, chatting with the two of them while Hakou spaced out, only adding comments when it he thought it was necessary.

It was only after an hour or two of talking with them that they said their goodbyes, and walked over to the corner where Hisoka was sitting, stacking up some cards.

As they approached them, it became evident that he was humming some song cheerily, with not a care in the world. An observation of the crowd indicated that they were clearly unnerved by the man.

"Hello!" Luciano said, plopping right down next to him. "My name is Luciano, and this is my friend-"

"Hakou." He intervened. "I can introduce myself, you know."

"It doesn't matter," Luciano replied, waving off his friend's annoyance. "Anyway, it's okay if you don't introduce yourself, because we already know you, Joker."

Hisoka raised an eyebrow. "Joker, you say?" He chuckled, and began to go back to his cards.

Shrugging, Luciano and Hakou got up and walked away, already having gotten all the information they could acquire from talking to the man.


"I'm a ninja, you know. And a great one at that. But don't tell anybody! I'm gonna be a Hunter so I can find the 'Hermit's Scroll.' And I'm so glad I have somebody new to talk to. Most people are just lazing about and worrying. Shows how weak they are, right?" The energetic ninja chattered.

"Ooh cool! A ninja? You've gotta teach me some tricks! And don't worry; your secret is safe with me! And what's the 'Hermit's Scroll?' Yea, most of the people here are real downers. The stronger ones like us are usually animated and lively, right?" Luciano chattered back.

Hakou could only stare in blank amazement, unable to keep up with the speed at which they were talking. Then he walked up to Luciano, whispered, "I'll go check out 301-he seems strong as well." And walked away, leaving the two cheerful people and their bubble of understanding.


"I'm Hakou. Who are you?"

"…." The pinned man gave no reply, causing Hakou to feel slightly awkward.

"What are these pins for?" As he was saying that, he reached out to grab one, but his hand was slapped away. Grinning slightly, Hakou turned around and walked away, back to the two chatterbox idiots.


"Killua?"

"Yes?"

"Have you got parents?

"Huh? Yes! Of course…"

"What do they do?"

"Assassins."

"Both of them?"

Luciano and Hakou hid from view, not wanting to interrupt the two's bonding moment.

Suddenly, both of them felt a malign presence. Both of them fought the urge to go and figure out the source, and only curiosity held them back.

"What's happening?" Netero's voice cut through the tension, and Luciano and Hakou relaxed. They collected themselves, nodded in silent agreement, and stepped out into the hallway.


(Killua's 3rd Point of View)

"What do you want? Got nothing to do until the finals?" Killua asked the old man venomously. He didn't trust the sneaky old man.

"Such coldness! I'm bored, so I was looking for someone to play with. It's your first participation in the trials, right? You like it?" Netero replied.

"Oi. It's not nice to form cliques." A black haired boy said emotionlessly.

"Yea! People can get sad! I want to be included in the conversation too!" A white-blonde-haired boy said, pretending to pout.

Gon, and Killua whipped their heads around, startled. Netero was startled too, for his head snapped up, and his eyes got slightly bigger.

"Ah, it's the infamous duo." Netero said.

"Infamous? I doubt what we did caused any serious damage." The black haired one replied, azure eyes cool, giving nothing away.

What the-I didn't even sense their presence! Killua thought. Just who are these two!

Gon, oblivious to the tension in the air, exclaimed, "Oh! You're the ones who finished the course earlier!"

"Pin-pon!" The whitish-blonde replied cutely.

"Oi, Luciano. That noise is disgusting. Please stop."

"Aw, don't be such a spoilsport."

"Why not? It's my apparent job, anyway." The black haired one retorted, and then turned to the other three. "He's mad that I dragged him away from his conversation with Hanzo, the not-so-secret ninja."

Despite himself, Killua found himself drawn to the strange duo. However, he also felt slightly intimidated, though he couldn't fathom why. Their outer appearance showed them to be at a level beneath him, and their age was most likely the same as himself.

"Anyway, can we watch?" Luciano asked. "We had a feeling you were going to do something fun, and I was wondering if we could watch and learn. We're not very good fighters, you see, just good at sneaking up on people. Catches them off guard. Anyway, I'm Luciano and this is-"

"Hakou." The azure-eyed boy said slightly testily.

Killua relaxed at Luciano's explanation, and turned back to Netero. "What were you saying?" Killua asked, slightly intrigued.

"Do you want to play with me? If you win, I'll give you the title of Hunter!" Netero exclaimed.


Luciano and Hakou looked on, one cheering, one observing somewhat quietly.

Gon and Killua were both trying to obtain the ball that Netero was holding, but it wasn't working. At points, they laughed, others, they winced. Basically, they were having a fun time watching the three of them play. When Killua left, Hakou got up in an unspoken agreement and followed him out.

Hakou watched as Killua took off his shirt and walked down the hall. Suddenly, Killua bumped into two men.

"Man, you're sweaty. Hey, kid, could you at least say excuse me?" Person One said.

"Oh!" Said Person Two as he continued to walk away, ignoring them.

Suddenly, the two men were a cut up, bloody mess. Hakou observed the hand that Killua used, and noticed that his fingernails had become long and razor-sharp. Ah, that's good to know. Then, he silently left Killua to his anger and went back to the gym.


When he arrived, he was surprised to find that Gon was currently sleeping on the floor with a huge bump on his head.

Netero, who had just gotten off the phone, looked up at Luciano and Hakou, as if remembering them for the first time. "Would you two like to try, after all of that careful observing?"

"Okay! Let's both go at him, kay?" Luciano exclaimed excitedly, looking back at Hakou with a pointed expression: A little worse than Gon and Killua, okay? Nodding as a reply to both questions, he rushed at Netero and distracted his attention from Luciano. Meanwhile Luciano took a not-so-stealthy path to the back of Netero, and at the same time, they aimed for his ankles. Having noticed Luciano, he jumped to the left, and the competition was on.


"Think it worked?" Luciano asked.

"He was completely tricked." Hakou replied confidently.

While there was no solid reason to hide their skill from everybody, they enjoyed their privacy, and both of them felt the need to have an ace up their sleeve. (Hakou: Besides, I already know I can beat most of them. Luciano: Narcissist. Hakou: Simple fact, oh dense one.)


"Those two… Luciano and Hakou. They're up to something. I feel like they're hiding something important." Illumi stated.

Hisoka giggled. "Oh, how interesting these little fruits are! I hope they don't get too out of line…" The light tone of his voice contrasted greatly from his facial expression.

Oh, yes. Those two were under close watch by all.